Aspects of Traditional south Indian homes

The southern Indian regions borrow aesthetics from each other but have adapted sensibilities unique to their particular culture. Here are a few features that distinguish traditional homes down south, from their neighbors.

  • Traditional Swing

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The Oonjal or Jhoola is a kind of swing, that is both furniture and cultural commodity. The wooden seat is typically anchored to the ceiling, with iron chains in links. Its cultural significance, as a relaxation spot for grandparents taking siestas, is a thing of nostalgia. These swings, which have been commonplace in independent homes are making their way into their apartments, as well.

  • Prayer room

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The prayer room is a staple in South Indian homes. Every contemporary residence, from luxury to budget flats in Chennai, will have an in-built ‘pooja room’. The doors of the alcove-like area, are embellished with tiny bells and wooden carvings.

  • Courtyard

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The courtyard is an element in many south Indian dwellings and is often a place for family bonding. The flooring is typically laid in red-oxide, as is in the rest of the residence. With an increase in the practicality of apartments over independent houses, courtyards have come to represent tradition or understated luxury.

  • Ornate art

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The Tanjore painting is easily recognisable as an art form associated with Tamil Nadu, Thanjavur to be precise. Deities and figures from Hindu mythology are recurring motifs in these paintings, which are represented in vivid colours, and laced with gold foil. The painting is framed with teak wood, lending it a regal look.

  • Artefacts

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Brass lamps, metallic vessels, and statuettes adorn many homes. A Nilavilaku or Kutthuvilaku is a traditional lamp, which is found in unique forms across temples, churches, and states too.

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*An Uruli is a cookware which is also used as an ornamental bowl, to float flowers in water.


We’d love to hear what’s your favourite aspect of a traditional South Indian home. Tell us in the comments below!